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BEIJING 2008 SOFTBALL

Japan expected to be toughest test

August 14, 2008|Melissa Isaacson | Chicago Tribune

BEIJING -- The U.S. women's softball team, seemingly on another roll to an Olympic gold medal, may run into its toughest test yet Friday against Japan.

Japan, coming off a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics, gave the Americans their toughest battle in Athens with a 3-0 victory in eight innings and has defeated the American team twice since then.

Both the USA and Japan had tough victories against Australia in recent days, Japan defeating Australia in the opener, with the U.S. getting by the Aussies, 3-0 on Wednesday.

This week, in the eight-team, round-robin tournament, Japan has also defeated Chinese Taipei, 2-1, and was set to play the Netherlands today.

The Americans had two no-hitters going into today's game against Canada.

Cat Osterman, Wednesday's winning pitcher, struck out 13 batters in seven innings against Australia, striking out the side in the fifth and seventh innings. Osterman joined Lori Harrigan as the only other pitcher to throw complete-game no-hitters in the Olympics.

Harrigan pitched a perfect game for the U.S. in a 6-0 victory over Canada on Sept. 17, 2000, the opening game of the Sydney Olympics.

Jennie Finch and Monica Abbott combined for a no-hitter in USA's opening rout of Venezuela.

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